There’s a widely held belief that you should do one thing each day that scares you. It’s supposed to encourage personal growth and self-confidence and such. I support this belief and those who embrace it, but also am into not being that adventurous. I tried skiing once and sprained my knee. Rollercoasters make me want to pee myself. I’m still a little bit scared of the dark. But this past weekend I headed to Asheville, North Carolina, home of beautiful mountains, great beer, and a relaxed culture to see what the city was all about. As it turned out, I ended up being unusually adventurous while I was there and I loved every second of it.
We started off our trip at The Biltmore, which is an insanely gorgeous estate that was home to the Vanderbilt family. It was all decked out for Christmas, and we got to go inside and look around. The grounds are beautiful. The house is beautiful. It was so much fun. If you get the chance to go, I’d definitely recommend it.
But the real adventure began on the beer side of things. Asheville is known for its amazing breweries, so we decided to check a few of them out. When I first moved to Charlotte I was strictly a vodka tonic girl, but Charlotte also has an amazing craft brewing scene, so I’ve quickly developed an appreciation for a good beer. First we headed to a brewery called Wicked Weed, where we made our way through a few different pours.
From there we jumped to Urban Orchard Cider Company, which was a funky, relaxed place where we tried a flight and got to sample a bunch of delicious hard ciders. After tasting hoppy beers, it was a fun change.
The cranberry cider (on the right) was probably my favorite. We have a hard cider spot in Charlotte called Red Clay and I’m a big fan, so it was fun to try Asheville’s equivalent.
While it’s all fun and games to be adventurous with your beer, our alcohol consumption inspired us to take our bravery one step further.
“Okay, so tomorrow maybe we could try horseback riding!” my friend Mary Kathryn suggested as we all sat around devouring some fried pickles.
My friend Lauren quickly agreed, since she had done barrel racing as a kid. They turned to me with eager expressions on their faces, waiting for my thoughts on the proposed activity.
I sipped my drink and contemplated my choices. I’ve been watching Friday Night Lights, and the plot line was currently heavily focused on someone who had sustained a spinal cord injury. I thought about all the various ways I could fall off a horse. I thought about the fact that there’s no elevator in my apartment, so if I ended up on crutches, life would get really challenging. Then I thought about the fact that horseback riding is a total bucket list thing and I would be stupid to pass up an opportunity to horseback ride in the mountains of Asheville. I was in. As I committed, I silently prayed that I had earned enough good karma to prevent myself from sustaining major injury.
As it turns out, it was chilly (even by my standards) when we set off on our hour-long trail ride adventure, 4,000 feet up on the side of a mountain. This meant big coats, dorky hats, excessive scarves, and lots of snot were all happening. We embraced it.
I was given a horse named Spring, who I was warned was lazy. This was cool with me, because I had no real desire to be galloping around the side of a mountain. I’d only been on a horse once before when I was a little kid, so even getting myself up on Spring was an accomplishment. I was given simple directions about how to guide her and away we went.
Going for a trail ride on horseback was not at all what I had expected. You have to focus on the horse, making sure she’s not getting too close to the one in front of her, but it was much more peaceful than I thought. For some reason I imagined horseback riding to be bumpy and fast and scary, but it wasn’t at all. The one thing that did sort of freak me out? There were points where we’d be going up or down big hills with no fence on the side where the drop off was. I kept imagining Spring stumbling in mud and the two of us tumbling down the side of the mountain, never to be heard from again. But in those moments I just guided her closer to the middle of the path, held on tight, and imagined myself safely in the car drinking hot chocolate later on.
The view during the ride was absolutely unbeatable. I would never consider myself a nature person (in fact my Tinder bio for a long time said “you’ll never convince me to go camping”) but being on horseback surrounded by views of the mountains and fields felt very zen to me. I imagined that in another life maybe it would be fun to have a cabin in the woods with a few horses and a goat or two or something. Maybe.
Though we lagged behind my friends for the whole trail ride, Spring and I made it without falling down the side of the mountain or stumbling in mud or losing a scarf or facing any of the other various tragedies that I had feared might happen when I had first stared at this large horse standing in front of me, waiting for me to hop on.
My parents were shocked that I had actually gone through with the trail ride, and demanded to see photographic evidence, which made the whole thing even more amusing. I was proud that I had been nervous about this activity, but had done it successfully and actually enjoyed it. There’s something inherently satisfying about doing something completely out of character and out of your comfort zone. It really does give you a boost of self-confidence. Plus it makes for a cool story and a ridiculous photo op, like this one:
Are you an adventurous type? What’s left on your bucket list? I want to keep expanding my horizons and am looking for suggestions! Still no rollercoasters though.